Practical advice for a healthy prostate

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A common question a urologist often hears from his male patients is “What can I do to reduce my risk of developing prostate cancer?”  Not enough men ask themselves this question. They’re more likely to put off going to the doctor than women. In fact, it’s mostly women that play a major part in making their partners or male family members go for their annual check-ups. This is the reason why Dr. David Samadi, Urologic Oncology Expert, and Robotic Surgeon have started the Samadi Challenge, in which he provoques every woman to raise awareness of prostate cancer for the men in their lives.

According to  Dr. Samadi, most men visit the urologist about their prostate because they feel they’re having a problem with it. Most prostate-related diseases do not have symptoms until they aggravate. You should not wait until you feel there’s something wrong. Men should consult with their doctors early on, on advice related to how they can care for their prostate and improve their chances of dodging prostate cancer.

Before taking care of your prostate, you first need to know what the prostate is and what it does. Most men don’t know that the prostate is a gland the size of a walnut, located between the bladder and the penis. This is where semen is produced, as a result of fluids from other glands and sperm cells from the testicles.

There are less serious and more common diseases that the prostate can suffer from, other than prostate cancer, such as prostatitis and benign prostatic hyperplasia. It’s important to know what your risk factors are (if you have a family history of prostate cancer, for example) and what you can do to prevent, as much as you can, complications of the prostate.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 170,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2019.  About 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. Besides skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in American men.  

While there are cancer-risk factors a man cannot change, such as family history, age, and ethnicity, there are several other lifestyle habits men can embrace to protect and preserve prostate health.

Here’s a look at some important advice that Dr. David Samadi gives every man to improve his chances of keeping his prostate healthy and cancer free:

Practice regular physical activity and maintain a healthy body weight

Some studies have shown that obese men have higher chances of having aggressive forms of prostate cancer. Central abdominal obesity or fat around the belly can influence the chances of prostate cancer occurring in men. This is why it’s important to exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet and stay fit.

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Increase your fruits and vegetable intake

They’ve kept telling you this since you were little: fruits and vegetables are crucial to your health. Every person should consume at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. You should focus on colorful produce, such as the ones containing the phytochemical lycopene: tomatoes, pink grapefruit, papaya or watermelon. The substance has been proven to fight against the apparition of prostate cancer. Cruciferous vegetables are also good at preventing all types of cancers, this is why you should eat cauliflower, kale, bok choy, brussels sprouts and broccoli.  

It might seem difficult and overwhelming to integrate all of these healthy options in your meal, so we’ve created a list of ideas that can help:

  • Drink vegetable juice at breakfast or lunch
  • Have a fruit and/or vegetable at each meal
  • Add vegetables such as diced tomatoes, peppers, onions or mushrooms, to your eggs at breakfast
  • Include a salad or vegetable soup at lunch
  • Have fruit slices or raw veggies like carrots or broccoli for snacks
  • Add in extra vegetables in pasta dishes and casseroles

Stay in the sun

You shouldn’t overexpose yourself in the sun without sunscreen, but you should stay outdoors and let the sun get a glimpse of you. Each time you stay in the sun you get loaded with vitamin D.  Among other benefits such as helping our bodies absorb calcium, phosphates that protect our bones, teeth, and muscles, it has been shown that a normal amount of vitamin D can reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.

Quit smoking

Smoking affects circulating hormone levels and exposes our bodies to carcinogens. This terrible habit also increases the risk of prostate cancer for men so if you are a smoker seek help in quitting as soon as possible.

Integrate selenium-rich foods in your diet

Selenium is a mineral that has been found in studies to play a role in preventing prostate cancer. Food that contains selenium is tuna, wheat germ, eggs, beef liver, sunflower and sesame seeds, mushrooms, garlic, onions, and cashews.

Know your risk factors

Family history of prostate cancer is a risk factor you need to take into account and let your doctor know about on your annual check up. Men that have fathers, brothers, grandfathers that have had the disease, have double the chances of developing prostate cancer themselves.

   Other risk factor for prostate cancer are:

  • men of the African-American race or men from the Caribbean of African ancestry;
  • men from North America, northwestern Europe, Australia, and the Caribbean Island;
  • men over the age of 50.

Prostate cancer screening

Screening for prostate cancer can be confusing. Some doctors recommend prostate cancer screenings depending on if the benefits outweigh the risks of some diagnostic tests and treatments. Some doctors encourage yearly screening for men over the age of 50, while others recommend against screening.  

While the majority of prostate cancer cases occur in men 55 or older, younger men are still at risk and do develop prostate cancer. The best time to begin prostate cancer screening is at age 40 with a baseline PSA test. From this baseline, future tests can be compared to check for changes occurring in the prostate.  

According to dr. Samadi, the easiest way men can check their prostate at the doctor is by undergoing a digital rectal exam and taking the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test.

A digital rectal exam is a test in which the doctor feels the prostate gland through the rectal wall to check for bumps or abnormal areas.

A PSA test measures the level of protein in the blood that rises when the prostate gland enlarges.  PSA levels alone do not provide enough information to distinguish between benign or cancerous conditions, but they can help doctors decide whether to check for further signs of prostate cancer.

Every man should discuss with their doctor about what is the best time for them to start taking the tests.